What was the fate of the main core of the first Falcon Heavy launch?



February 6th 2018 saw the first test launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy rocket.

During the main core's landing on the marine landing pad, the connection was lost. As such it is not immediately clear whether the launch and landing were a complete success or not.

What was the main core's fate in the end? Did it manage to land correctly?


Posted 2018-02-06T21:35:14.500

Reputation: 363

4I am aware that there might not be an answer yet. I am very interested to learn of the fate of the core whenever a statement is made however.JAD 2018-02-06T21:35:46.553


This question is going to have 6 simultaneous answers as soon as the tweet from SpaceX hits telling us the fate of the core.

JPhi1618 2018-02-06T21:55:28.530

2And 6 uninformed answers before that.Russell Borogove 2018-02-06T23:09:49.083

If you go back to the recording, right as a below answer states, around 38:30 the flight crew says we lost the center core, about 5 seconds before the smoke appears on screen. It would be safe to assume the smoke was a crash as you can also see some debris fly off screen.ggiaquin16 2018-02-06T23:16:44.793


"Musk: Center core didn't make it. Only one engine relit." https://twitter.com/jasonrdavis/status/961028209792909313

Russell Borogove 2018-02-07T00:13:38.380

1@RussellBorogove doesn't that make it not POB anymore? Seems to me there is a very objective answer.JAD 2018-02-07T05:50:13.933

@JAD Yes, now it’s merely trivial.Russell Borogove 2018-02-07T06:35:28.310

You couldn't have just ... waited a day to find out? If the info isn't available, asking on here isn't going to get you an answer. SpaceX never hides this type of information, and it's not as though a SpaceX employee would post here before they make a public announcement. They just needed some time to figure out what happened. I am completely puzzled by the purpose of this question.sgroves 2018-02-07T19:44:42.933



The core has been lost, according to the technical stream:

If you wait until ~38 min and 30 seconds, the announcer says "We lost the center core".


Elon Musk has confirmed that the center core didn't make it. To paraphrase from the SpaceX post-launch news conference

The center core obviously didn't land on the droneship, or we would have shown that... It ran out of propellant to relight the engines... It was the center one [that ignited], I believe, and the outer two did not, and that was not enough to slow it down. [something I can't make out] hit the water at three hundred miles an hour and took out two of the engines on the droneship... That sounds like some pretty fun footage, so if the cameras didn't get blown up as well, then we'll put that on a blooper reel

That was ~41 minutes into the video, I believe.


Posted 2018-02-06T21:35:14.500

Reputation: 739

7Do you think Lost means video? Or as in misplace? Or as in destroyed? I am not so sure that is not a lost video on center core. Of course, time will tell.geoffc 2018-02-06T22:01:37.037

Was this when the main stream announcers were about to say something about the core, and they stopped? Or did this happen way after that?JPhi1618 2018-02-06T22:02:03.223

2@geoffc I think it means the core itself was lost; I had the impression that the callout for lost video is something along the lines of "lost telemetry" or "lost downlink".awksp 2018-02-06T22:04:02.563

@JPhi1618 To be honest, I'm not sure. I had the technical stream audio over the main stream video, and on listening to the main stream there's a bit much going on for me to tell where exactly it is. Sorry :(awksp 2018-02-06T22:05:43.807

@geoffc, I went back and watched, the flight crew says that they lost the center core about 5 seconds before the smoke appears on feed. You can also see some sort of debris fly off screen in the smoke as well. From re-watching that 10 sec segment a few times, I would best guess that the core didn't slow down enough to land safely.ggiaquin16 2018-02-06T23:13:13.820

@JPhi1618 That was after. They said they lost the core just after both boosters landedJonathan Kelsey 2018-02-06T23:42:52.897

The audio at that point was terrible, but I'm almost certain he corrected the initial "propellant" statement to "TEA/TEB," or the lighter fluid used to ignite engines.Saiboogu 2018-02-07T15:31:31.750

the core crashed, a picture of the RUD/drone ship damage would be great.tedder42 2018-02-07T19:46:52.190

How did you find that video? It was unlistedJonathan Kelsey 2018-02-09T18:51:19.600


The feed was in fact in the background the whole time.... they did not loose signal as stated by the presentors. Here you can see highlighted in red, smoke, smoke clears and then you can see the whole drone ship pad with no rocket.

Jonathan Kelsey

Posted 2018-02-06T21:35:14.500

Reputation: 152

They did lose the feed for a bit - if they hadn't the smoke would have been seen moving. Good video though.Baldrickk 2018-02-14T18:09:58.863


if you watch the part in the feed when they warn that the cameras might cut out due to vibration immediatly after the screen appears to go grey. but if you look closely you can still see the handrailing in the bottom left of the shot. i believe the grey is smoke. and when it first goes grey you can see a projectile shoot off to the right side of the screen... all signs points to a center core crash.


Posted 2018-02-06T21:35:14.500

Reputation: 47

1I can see the projectile.Jonathan Kelsey 2018-02-06T23:43:38.110